Tag Archives: California Public Records Act

Despicable Streets Of Shame Reporter Joel Grover Emailed LA Sanitation Boss Flackie Elena Stern Asking For A Bunch Of Info — Stern’s Subordinates Asked Her Why Didn’t She Make Him Use NextRequest — Stern Explained That “we have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to antagonize a reporter like Grover” — She Said: “because it’s him, I’m not making him go through CPRA” — Then She Sent Him The Goodies Via Return Email — So I Asked Her For The Same Stuff Just Yesterday — Via Email — And Her Response Was Quite Different — She Refused Me Stating That “all CPRAs are to be submitted through the NextRequest portal” — Because She — Or Her Masters In The Department Of Public Works — Like Joel Grover’s Reporting And They Don’t Like Mine — Which Is Egregious — And Illegal — And Immoral — And Entirely Normal For The City Of Los Angeles

Ask the LA City Bureau of Sanitation, popularly known as “LA San,” for public records and you’ll almost certainly be subjected to obstructions, delays, lies, and so on. And since LA San signed up for NextRequest, a despicable and useless public records platform, you’ll be forced to communicate with anonymous City staffers through a clunky script-heavy website that barely works on a computer and just forget about your phone all together.

Unless, of course, you happen to work for NBC Universal or the LA Times. Elena Stern, Senior Public Information Director with the Department of Public Works, which includes LA San, is happy to handle your CPRA requests informally via email. This is no accident, by the way. Stern clearly understands the utter uselessness of NextRequest, and the pain it causes. Here’s the story.
Continue reading Despicable Streets Of Shame Reporter Joel Grover Emailed LA Sanitation Boss Flackie Elena Stern Asking For A Bunch Of Info — Stern’s Subordinates Asked Her Why Didn’t She Make Him Use NextRequest — Stern Explained That “we have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to antagonize a reporter like Grover” — She Said: “because it’s him, I’m not making him go through CPRA” — Then She Sent Him The Goodies Via Return Email — So I Asked Her For The Same Stuff Just Yesterday — Via Email — And Her Response Was Quite Different — She Refused Me Stating That “all CPRAs are to be submitted through the NextRequest portal” — Because She — Or Her Masters In The Department Of Public Works — Like Joel Grover’s Reporting And They Don’t Like Mine — Which Is Egregious — And Illegal — And Immoral — And Entirely Normal For The City Of Los Angeles

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Confidential Attorney Client Conversation Between Deputy City Attorneys Mike Dundas and Strefan Fauble And CD13 Staffer Dan Halden Reveal That The City Denies Requests As Burdensome Even Though They Know A Judge Wouldn’t Buy Such An Exemption Claim — That They Consider Whether A Requester Will Actually Sue Them When Deciding Whether Or Not To Deny As Burdensome — Which Is Intrinsically A Violation Of The CPRA — And That Mike Dundas Understands The CPRA Far Better Than Strefan Fauble

This post is about a confidential email conversation between Deputy City Attorneys Mike Dundas and Strefan Fauble and CD13 staffer Dan Halden about a CPRA request of mine. If you’d like to read the email without reading my nonsensical rantings about it you can find it here on Archive.Org.

If you spend any time at all asking the City of Los Angeles for copies of public records you’ll have realized that compliance with the Public Records Act is not a high priority of theirs. They violate it constantly, in small ways and large, intentionally and out of sheer careless indifference. They violate it because they can afford to pay out any number of settlements and most people won’t sue them. They violate it even though compliance with the CPRA is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of California.1

And now, although I’ve long suspected it to be true, I have proof that the City Attorney’s office actually advises them to decide whether to violate it based on whether or not they think the requester will sue them which, as Strefan Fauble so succinctly puts it in a top-secret confidential April 2019 email conversation, “would involve a lot more work.”

But it takes resources to sue them, so effectively this policy favors rich requesters and corporate requesters, even though the Constitution2 guarantees access to every person, which clearly means equal access. It’s surely no coincidence that rich people and corporations are much, much less likely to be critical of the City. This story begins with a request I sent to Dan Halden on March 12, 2019. I asked Halden for:
Continue reading Confidential Attorney Client Conversation Between Deputy City Attorneys Mike Dundas and Strefan Fauble And CD13 Staffer Dan Halden Reveal That The City Denies Requests As Burdensome Even Though They Know A Judge Wouldn’t Buy Such An Exemption Claim — That They Consider Whether A Requester Will Actually Sue Them When Deciding Whether Or Not To Deny As Burdensome — Which Is Intrinsically A Violation Of The CPRA — And That Mike Dundas Understands The CPRA Far Better Than Strefan Fauble

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In March 2020 Apparently Carrie Poppy Asked The Historic Core BID For Some Public Records — Leading Batty Little Fusspot Blair Besten To Assume It Was Actually Me — And Therefore To Flip Her Already Fairly Unstable Wig — And Write To Self-Proclaimed Hollywood Superlawyer Jeffrey Charles Briggs — THIS REQUEST SEEMS KOHLHAASESQUE!!!! — Prompting Briggs To Interrogate A Bunch Of Other BIDs While Investigating The Most Pressing Question Of Our Time — Is Carrie Poppy Somehow Associated With Kohlhaas??!?!!?! — His Conclusion? — She Is Not Associated With Me — And Jeffrey Charles Briggs Has Never Known Himself To Be Wrong About Anything — So I Guess We Have To Believe Him! — Not Least Because He Writes In All Caps Like A Serial Killer

This post is ultimately about an email conversation between Blair Besten and Hollywood Superlawyer Jeffrey Charles Briggs about a public records request that renowned podcaster Carrie Poppy submitted to Besten’s BID in May 2020. It’s a fascinating look behind the scenes as a CPRA request is filled. If you want to skip my nonsense and get straight to the goods, here’s a link to the email itself, and here are a bunch of emails between Poppy and Briggs about her request.

Like I said up there in the title, in March 2020 Carrie Poppy sent a request for public records to Blair Besten, the half-pint Norma Desmond of the Historic Core BID, the third weirdest of the minor Downtown BIDs. Poppy’s request included the following sentence: If any of these records are held by the BID in electronic form I will need to inspect them and potentially receive copies in electronic form.”

And because apparently she’s always thinking of me, Besten immediately fired off a desperate email to self-proclaimed Hollywood Superlawyer Jeffrey Charles Briggs which contained a plaintive cri de coeur: “This sounds like an [Kohlhaas]esque request. ‘Electronic Form’ as they are being held – you know? Maybe?” And Briggs, always voluble, rarely sensible, had something to say about Poppy’s request as well.

Writing in all caps like the serial killer he never had the nerve to become Briggs had this clueless comment: I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS UNLESS SHE THINKS WE WOULD CHARGE HER FOR A THUMB DRIVE OR WHATEVER; WE CAN JUST SEND PDF’S OR THE EMAILS THEMSELVES IF THERE ARE ANY, BY EMAIL. WE CAN FIGURE OUT HOW TO TRANSMIT WHEN WE KNOW WHAT WE HAVE.”
Continue reading In March 2020 Apparently Carrie Poppy Asked The Historic Core BID For Some Public Records — Leading Batty Little Fusspot Blair Besten To Assume It Was Actually Me — And Therefore To Flip Her Already Fairly Unstable Wig — And Write To Self-Proclaimed Hollywood Superlawyer Jeffrey Charles Briggs — THIS REQUEST SEEMS KOHLHAASESQUE!!!! — Prompting Briggs To Interrogate A Bunch Of Other BIDs While Investigating The Most Pressing Question Of Our Time — Is Carrie Poppy Somehow Associated With Kohlhaas??!?!!?! — His Conclusion? — She Is Not Associated With Me — And Jeffrey Charles Briggs Has Never Known Himself To Be Wrong About Anything — So I Guess We Have To Believe Him! — Not Least Because He Writes In All Caps Like A Serial Killer

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Raquel Beltran Of The Department Of Neighborhood Empowerment Told The Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council That “We” Know Of “A Couple People” Who “Do [Public Records Requests] As A Racket — And Then They Collect The Fines” — Beltran Is A Liar — And She Lies Like A Child — With Nothing To Gain — No Chance Of Not Getting Caught — Stupid Pointless Lies — I Suppose She’s An Improvement Though — So Far She Seems Slightly Less Psychopathic Than Grayce Liu — But So Are 999,999,999 Out Of A Billion People — So We Could Probably Do Better — But I Doubt That We Will

On January 12, 2021 Raquel Beltran, newish boss of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, paid a visit to a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. She spoke for a long, long time, about a wide range of topics, one of which was the California Public Records Act. Beltran doesn’t like this law at all, by the way. It’s overwhelming to her.1

Her rambling slo-mo rant starts here, but I’m much more interested in this little bit over here. Some random DLANC director asks Beltran why DONE can’t do CPRAs for NCs because they’re overwhelmed and ignorant.2 Beltran goes on and on about how she wanted to do this but there’s just no money for it.3 Then we get to the key bit. The director has a followup question!

…in many cases the requester knows more about the process than the neighborhood council does and this could, this could really ensue [sic] a liability issue.

And oh, boy, does Beltran ever bite at this morsel! She’s off and running, folks!
Continue reading Raquel Beltran Of The Department Of Neighborhood Empowerment Told The Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council That “We” Know Of “A Couple People” Who “Do [Public Records Requests] As A Racket — And Then They Collect The Fines” — Beltran Is A Liar — And She Lies Like A Child — With Nothing To Gain — No Chance Of Not Getting Caught — Stupid Pointless Lies — I Suppose She’s An Improvement Though — So Far She Seems Slightly Less Psychopathic Than Grayce Liu — But So Are 999,999,999 Out Of A Billion People — So We Could Probably Do Better — But I Doubt That We Will

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November 2020 — LAPD Constitutional Policing Boss Lizabeth Rhodes Wrote A Top Secret Memo To Police Commission Boss Richard Tefank About Public Records Requests From Stop LAPD Spying — I Have A Copy Of The Top Secret Memo For You! — And Also It’s So Full Of Bullshit And Lies That It Amounts To A Violation Of LAMC 49.5.5 — Which Is Why This Morning I Reported Rhodes And Her Co-Conspirators Marla Ciuffetelli And Bryan Lium To The Ethics Commission — And Here Is A Copy Of The 118 Page Report For You Also!

This post is about a confidential memorandum from LAPD Constitutional Policing director Lizabeth Rhodes to Police Commission ED Richard Tefank about a request made by Hamid Khan of Stop LAPD Spying under the California Public Records Act. It’s also about a series of violations of LAMC 49.5.5 by Rhodes and LAPD officers Marla Ciuffetelli and Bryan Lium based on their biased handling of various requests for records and a complaint against all three of them that I filed this morning with the Los Angeles Ethics Commission. If you don’t want to read the whole thing here are the two main documents involved:

🙨 Lizabeth Rhodes’s confidential memorandum

🙨 Complaint against Rhodes, Ciuffetelli, and Lium

The Los Angeles Police Department has something called the Office of Constitutional Policing and Policy. It sounds like pernicious crapola and pernicious crapola is precisely what it is. Forced upon LAPD by the 2000 consent decree, over the years the cops have used their cop superpowers to thoroughly weaponize OCPP against the people of Los Angeles. Just for instance, let’s talk about about Hamid Khan of Stop LAPD Spying, about the California Public Records Act, about a letter Khan sent to the Police Commission in August 2020 about LAPD’s refusal to comply with the law, and about Lizabeth Rhodes, the hard-nosed criminal lawyer in charge of OCPP.1

In September 2019 Khan filed a CPRA request with LAPD. LAPD, of course, will not comply with the CPRA2 at all, and they especially won’t comply for the likes of Khan. Khan wrote to the Police Commission about it on August 31, 2020 and then complained in person during public comment on October 6, 2020. Khan’s remarks apparently prompted Commissioner Dale Bonner to wonder if maybe, just maybe, there might be some substance to his complaint. Consequently criminal lawyer Rhodes wrote a top-secret highly confidential memorandum, which I just happen to have an actual copy of, to Commission Executive Director Richard Tefank.

This remarkable document is packed with lies and bullshit to a degree hitherto unseen even from the LAPD, an organization which has been growing fat on lies and bullshit for well over a century. It is worth discussing in great detail. Before I do that, though, don’t forget about LAPD officer Marla Ciuffetelli, who runs the CPRA unit, and who violates LAMC 49.5.5 by prioritizing CPRA requests from some reporters and absolutely obstructing requests from other reporters. Also don’t forget about Bryan Lium, Ciuffetelli’s boss, who violates LAMC 49.5.5 in exactly the same way.

Rhodes’s memorandum also violates LAMC 49.5.5, so this morning I filed a complaint against all three of these thuggish scofflaws with the City Ethics Commission, and if anything comes of it I will certainly let you know! Meanwhile, read on for a detailed discussion of Rhodes’s dishonest nonsense! Presented as a dramatic dialogue no less!!
Continue reading November 2020 — LAPD Constitutional Policing Boss Lizabeth Rhodes Wrote A Top Secret Memo To Police Commission Boss Richard Tefank About Public Records Requests From Stop LAPD Spying — I Have A Copy Of The Top Secret Memo For You! — And Also It’s So Full Of Bullshit And Lies That It Amounts To A Violation Of LAMC 49.5.5 — Which Is Why This Morning I Reported Rhodes And Her Co-Conspirators Marla Ciuffetelli And Bryan Lium To The Ethics Commission — And Here Is A Copy Of The 118 Page Report For You Also!

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Marla Ciuffetelli of LAPD’s California Public Records Act Unit Specially Facilitated A Request From Denise Chan Of KCET — Ciuffetelli Had It Labeled With A Distinct Label Not Used For Less Favored Media Representatives — And Repeatedly Emailed Richard Tefank Of The Police Commission Encouraging Him To Hurry Up And Finish Chan’s Request — Which He Did — It Was Completed In Less Than Two Months — She Also Went Out Of Her Way To Hinder Tefank’s Processing Of My Requests — She Has A Special Label For Me Too! — Which Apparently Discourages Anyone From Working On My Requests — She Is Going Down For Violating LAMC 49.5.5 By Creating A Private Advantage For Chan — And Probably For Violating The First Amendment — Which Specifically Forbids Government Agents From Granting More Access To Their Pet Reporters — And From Deciding Which Media Outlets Are More Legitimate

I wrote recently about how LAPD Legal Affairs Boss Bryan Lium violated LAMC 49.5.5 by expediting a CPRA request for journalist Aura Bogado while at the same time hindering a request from Stop LAPD Spying. Today’s story, about how LAPD CPRA Unit Boss Marla Ciuffetelli did precisely the same thing for KCET journalist Denise Chan, shows that Lium’s antics with respect to Bogado’s request were not an anomaly.

Ciuffetelli has her subordinates tag requests from her favored media outlets, presumably to distinguish them for expedited handling. And, like Lium, she was willing to send Police Commission Executive Richard Tefank innumerable emails encouraging him to hurry along Chan’s request while repeatedly mentioning the fact that she works for KCET. And, like Lium’s beneficiary Aura Bogado, Denise Chan’s request got filled comparatively very quickly, in less than two months. As we’ve seen, other requests, from less favored requesters, can linger for years with no action at all.

Chan filed Request 20-3691 on June 11, 2020. That link leads to the actual NextRequest page as seen by a user not logged in as Chan or an administrator. But NextRequest request pages have a lot of material not visible to the general public. For instance, take a look at this PDF printout of the same request, but as seen by a logged-in user with staff privileges. In particular, make note of the tags added by the LAPD CPRA Analyst: LAPD: CAT-2, LAPD: CPRA (non-SB1421), LAPD: Media, LAPD: Other

Unfortunately I don’t yet have any way of figuring out what those tags actually mean. But there is still some useful information to be gained. For instance, I’m willing to guess that the LAPD: Media tag means that the requester is from a media organization that LAPD favors for as-yet-undertermined reasons. This may seem obvious, but it’s not for a number of reasons.

In particular, take a look at this request that I submitted to LAPD on July 9, 2020. The linked-to PDF is again the logged-in administrator view, showing the tags: LAPD: CPRA (non-SB1421), LAPD: High Priority , LAPD: High Profile, LAPD: Other Note that although I explicitly and truthfully identified myself as a member of the media the analyst did not add that LAPD: Media tag.

However, they did add at least one tag not applied to Chan’s request, which is the LAPD: High Profile tag. I know for a fact that this tag refers to me personally. To see this, take a look at Marla Ciuffetelli’s weekly CPRA report for the week of August 15, 2020. You can see up at the top a headnote:
Continue reading Marla Ciuffetelli of LAPD’s California Public Records Act Unit Specially Facilitated A Request From Denise Chan Of KCET — Ciuffetelli Had It Labeled With A Distinct Label Not Used For Less Favored Media Representatives — And Repeatedly Emailed Richard Tefank Of The Police Commission Encouraging Him To Hurry Up And Finish Chan’s Request — Which He Did — It Was Completed In Less Than Two Months — She Also Went Out Of Her Way To Hinder Tefank’s Processing Of My Requests — She Has A Special Label For Me Too! — Which Apparently Discourages Anyone From Working On My Requests — She Is Going Down For Violating LAMC 49.5.5 By Creating A Private Advantage For Chan — And Probably For Violating The First Amendment — Which Specifically Forbids Government Agents From Granting More Access To Their Pet Reporters — And From Deciding Which Media Outlets Are More Legitimate

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Remember How I Sued The Highland Park BID And The Lincoln Heights BID In January 2020 Over Their Failures To Produce Public Records? — They Were About To Settle The Case But Then They Flipped Out — Fired Their Sane Lawyers — And Hired Carol Humiston And Her Weirdo Henchie Julie Bachert To Fight The Case! — And My Lawyer — Colleen Flynn — Fought Off Their Aggressively Unhinged Tactics — And Taught Them A Lesson They Shouldn’t Forget But They Probably Will — And They Came Crawling Back Begging To Settle! — Which We Did Yesterday And They’re Paying Flynn And Matthew Strugar — Who Also Helped — Thirty Thousand Dollars In Fees — And Assorted Costs — And They Agreed To Produce Emails On A Schedule — So More News About These Infernal BIDs Quite Soon!

Background: This post follows up on a post from last year, and here’s some useful background from there:

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our old friends at the Highland Park BID but that’s certainly not because I lost interest in them! You’ll recall that in early 2018 they released a really rich set of emails in response to some requests made under the California Public Records Act. These records revealed, among other things, the BID’s complicity in the ongoing hurricane-force gentrification of Highland Park, using tactics like mural erasure and harassment of street vendors. The emails also showed the BID’s creepy Facebook stalking of local antigentrification activists, coordinated with weirdo CD1 staffer Bill Cody.

The post is about my lawsuit against these BIDs. You can read most of the pleadings filed here on Archive.Org as well.

Remember last January? Before all this pandemic insurrection nonsense? Anyway, that’s when I filed a suit against both the Highland Park Business Improvement District and the Lincoln Heights BID1 over their failures to comply with the California Public Records Act. I haven’t written much on it because at first it looked like it was going to settle quickly. The BIDs agreed to produce the records and everything was fine.

Then they fired their lawyers and hired Carol “World’s angriest CPRA lawyer” Humiston’s firm, Bradley & Gmelich, to fight the petition instead. Humiston, of course, has it in for me and is even willing to break the law and the rules of the California State Bar to further her obsessive campaign. She apparently actually believes that the only reason I request records from BIDs is to fuck with them and run up their lawyer bills, and she’s determined to prove this in court.

So these new lawyers, apparently more determined to get at me than to help their clients, aggressively tried to depose me, I guess to get me to admit to my evil anti-BID plans. There’s nothing that my evidence can add to a CPRA case, though. The law specifically states that the requester’s purpose is irrelevant.2 and my lawyer, the incomparable Colleen Flynn, filed a motion for a protective order to stave them off.
Continue reading Remember How I Sued The Highland Park BID And The Lincoln Heights BID In January 2020 Over Their Failures To Produce Public Records? — They Were About To Settle The Case But Then They Flipped Out — Fired Their Sane Lawyers — And Hired Carol Humiston And Her Weirdo Henchie Julie Bachert To Fight The Case! — And My Lawyer — Colleen Flynn — Fought Off Their Aggressively Unhinged Tactics — And Taught Them A Lesson They Shouldn’t Forget But They Probably Will — And They Came Crawling Back Begging To Settle! — Which We Did Yesterday And They’re Paying Flynn And Matthew Strugar — Who Also Helped — Thirty Thousand Dollars In Fees — And Assorted Costs — And They Agreed To Produce Emails On A Schedule — So More News About These Infernal BIDs Quite Soon!

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My Public Records Requests Have Apparently Caused Both LAPD And Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson To Embrace A Kind Of Self-Destructive Paranoid Madness — They Are Randomly Accusing Various Not-Me Requesters Of Being Me — LAPD Has Evidently Put Random People Other Than Me On My “Work Plan” — The Plan Amounts To Not Filling My Requests At All — So Basically LAPD Is Denying Requests From Random People In Order To Take Revenge On Me — Which Is Not Only Illegal — It’s Also Idiotic — And Unsustainable — Did I Ever Mention “The Caine Mutiny”? — It’s A Really Good Movie! — Very Timely! — Very Relevant!


Have you ever seen The Caine Mutiny?1 Humphrey Bogart plays Captain Queeg, who at one point calls in all his ship’s officers at 1 am to interrogate them about some putatively missing strawberries. He forces them to investigate all night and give him a report at 8 am. They can’t find the culprit and tell him so, but he regales them with a long story of how, as a young ensign in 1937, he nabbed a cheese thief on his ship who’d made a duplicate pantry key. He told them that he was sure the same thing had happened with the strawberries on the Caine:2

Now, I’ve worked out a very simple plan. First, we collect every key on this ship and tag it with the name of the owner. Second, we strip all hands to make sure we got all the keys. Third, we test each key on the icebox padlock, and the one that fits will give us the name of the owner.

Humphrey Bogart won an Oscar for his role, and as far as I’m concerned he deserved it just for the way he’s fooling with his damn toast in this scene. Anyway, as you probably know, the Los Angeles Police Department is very, very upset with my use of the California Public Records Act. Their displeasure goes to the very top, as shown by this personal letter I received last Summer from supreme LAPD chieftain Michel Moore.

Despite his blah blah blah about a work plan and handling requests sequentially, what they’ve really done is to stop producing records at all. But they’re somewhat hindered in this project by the fact that Gmail is free and the law doesn’t allow them to inquire too deeply into the identities of requesters.

However, they try, they try, and one of the ways they try, it turns out, is by randomly and wrongly accusing various requesters of being me. Their raving paranoia matches and perhaps exceeds Queeg’s. Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look at this blog comment from the other day:
Continue reading My Public Records Requests Have Apparently Caused Both LAPD And Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson To Embrace A Kind Of Self-Destructive Paranoid Madness — They Are Randomly Accusing Various Not-Me Requesters Of Being Me — LAPD Has Evidently Put Random People Other Than Me On My “Work Plan” — The Plan Amounts To Not Filling My Requests At All — So Basically LAPD Is Denying Requests From Random People In Order To Take Revenge On Me — Which Is Not Only Illegal — It’s Also Idiotic — And Unsustainable — Did I Ever Mention “The Caine Mutiny”? — It’s A Really Good Movie! — Very Timely! — Very Relevant!

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In June 2020 LAPD Took Only 26 Days To Produce 60 Pages Of Michel Moore’s Text Messages In Response To A CPRA Request From Investigative Reporter Aura Bogado — Which Is So Fast It’s Unbelievable — Bogado Attributed Their Speedy And Complete Response To Her Litigious Reputation And Some Specific Phrases She Included In The Request — But We All Know From Experience LAPD Doesn’t Care About That At All — They Get Sued Successfully All The Time — And I’ve Seen No Evidence That They Care How Requests Are Written — It Turns Out That Bryan Lium — Commander Of LAPD’s Legal Affairs Division — Took A Special Interest In Bogado’s Request And Emailed Richard Tefank About Eleventy-Jillion Times To Hurry It Along — Which Is Actually Why It Got Filled Fast — Meanwhile Lium Tells Everyone That Stop LAPD Spying’s Requests Will Just Have To Wait Because They Have To “Balance” Them With Other Requests — Where “Balance” Apparently Means “Ignore Completely”

On June 30, 2020, investigative reporter Aura Bogado tweeted a thread about text messages sent or received by LAPD Chief Michel Moore during the June 2, 2020 meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission. Bogado obtained these on June 29, 2020 as a result of a June 3, 2020 NextRequest filing.1

As you may know, I’ve had some trouble getting the Los Angeles Police Department to even respond to my CPRA requests, let alone to actually produce significant records quickly enough to be useful. So I asked Bogado how she’d done it, but it turned out that she had no idea whatsoever, although she thought she understood. Here’s what she had to say:

I did a standard CPRA to police records; made sure to include why I thought the records existed (Soboroff lifted his phone to the camera at some point) and also included that the request was subject to litigation if I didn’t get a response. I sue, and win, but that’s usually with the federal gov (I cover im/migration nationally) so I think this was part of the motivation to take my request seriously.

Continue reading In June 2020 LAPD Took Only 26 Days To Produce 60 Pages Of Michel Moore’s Text Messages In Response To A CPRA Request From Investigative Reporter Aura Bogado — Which Is So Fast It’s Unbelievable — Bogado Attributed Their Speedy And Complete Response To Her Litigious Reputation And Some Specific Phrases She Included In The Request — But We All Know From Experience LAPD Doesn’t Care About That At All — They Get Sued Successfully All The Time — And I’ve Seen No Evidence That They Care How Requests Are Written — It Turns Out That Bryan Lium — Commander Of LAPD’s Legal Affairs Division — Took A Special Interest In Bogado’s Request And Emailed Richard Tefank About Eleventy-Jillion Times To Hurry It Along — Which Is Actually Why It Got Filled Fast — Meanwhile Lium Tells Everyone That Stop LAPD Spying’s Requests Will Just Have To Wait Because They Have To “Balance” Them With Other Requests — Where “Balance” Apparently Means “Ignore Completely”

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Self Help And The California Public Records Act — The Case Of FilmLA — And Their Weirdly Intransigent Attitude Towards The Law — And A Hacky But Functional Way To Scrape Their Website — Which I Did Over The Last Week Or So — And Now It’s — At Least Theoretically — Possible To Batch Search The Permits

Background: This post follows up on a post from a few days ago, and here’s some useful background from there:

This month Los Angeles activists were forced to think a lot about film permits. First the extraordinary Ktown For All broke what turned into an international story about the City shutting down a COVID test site at Union Station to accommodate a film shoot.

Then less than two weeks later Streetwatch LA member Ian Carr broke the story that an entirely different film company had somehow arranged for a large encampment in front of City Hall East to be swept away in advance of their shoot. Twitter user @publicownedbus also provided valuable info, and then ace Knock LA reporter Cerise Castle also wrote about this incident.1

Recent events have made it clear that we need an effective way to search the content of Los Angeles film permits for names and phone numbers of location managers, locations, and other essential information. Permits are coordinated by an entity called FilmLA. FilmLA is putatively private but is made subject to the California Public Records Act at least by its contract with the City of Los Angeles.2 But FilmLA bossman Paul Audley refuses to comply with the law.

And while I’m not giving up on legal remedies, they take forever and it turns out that it’s not necessary to wait in order to obtain some of the records. In particular, the permits themselves. Audley admits that the permits are subject to the CPRA and they are all in some technical sense available on FilmLA’s website. However, the search is abysmal.

It’s only possible to search on four predetermined fields, which are Permit Number, Company Name, Production Title, and Date of First Activity. If you want other information, like all permits at a given location, you’re out of luck. Not only that, but it’s impossible to search even those fields without being logged in. This excludes search engines from indexing the permits (unless arrangements are made to allow them in, which FilmLA has not done).3

But there’s probably no way to compel these people to let search engines in, even with a lawsuit, so I took matters into my own hands and scraped the site of most of the permits.4 I’m in the process of putting these all on Archive.Org. There are presently more than 45K individual files uploaded but there are over 100GB and it’s taking a while to get them up. The Archive allows search engines to index their site, of course, so eventually all the permits will be searchable on the open internet.
Continue reading Self Help And The California Public Records Act — The Case Of FilmLA — And Their Weirdly Intransigent Attitude Towards The Law — And A Hacky But Functional Way To Scrape Their Website — Which I Did Over The Last Week Or So — And Now It’s — At Least Theoretically — Possible To Batch Search The Permits

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